The view that the North had escaped the troubles and that there was a future based on a booming economy has been fast turned into its opposite over the last few months. Riots in nationalist areas following the Real/Continuity IRA attacks on the police and British army as well as increased violence surrounding this year’s orange marches have displayed an increase in social and political tensions. These events were not created in a vacuum and mirror the crisis in the economy. It was revealed this week that unemployment reached 51 000 in July. (Belfast Telegraph 12/8/09)

The Thomas Cook workers who occupied their shop for four days have now been released by the High Court having “purged their contempt”. But it’s going to take more than that to purge the contempt that many workers will feel for bosses who were prepared to use the law courts and, 80 heavy handed gards who turned up at 5am – when they thought there wouldn’t be an audience, to manhandle the 27 workers down to the courts. If ever anyone needed convincing of the way that the state apparatus acts in the interests of the bosses then this is a perfect example.

After a week long strike that saw some 240 sites being picket by TEEU members the union has instructed the 10,500 strikers to return to work, following the decision of the Labour Court to recommend a 4.9% deal – to be paid in two installments; 2.5% in September and 2.4% in January. But, it would be a mistake to suggest that the dispute is over and done with.

The TEEU strike, that started Monday, might well represent a new sharp turn in the course of events. The 10,500 electricians punch well above their weight; they have industrial power beyond their numbers. They can stop constructions sites and factories nationwide. They deserve the full backing of the whole of the Irish labour movement.

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